Magic Johnson, in reflecting on the passing of his “second father” and Lakers owner Dr. Jerry Buss, spoke highly of Buss’s daughter Jeanie and indicated he hoped Jeanie was put in a position to run the Lakers organization.
Buss, the iconic and legendary owner, passed away on Monday after a long battle with cancer.
On Monday, in an interview with ESPN, Johnson said Jerry Buss wanted Jeanie to be a “major factor” in the future of the Lakers organization and “probably run it one day.”
“I”m hoping she’s in a position to do that,” Johnson said. “And the Buss legacy will carry on through the kids.”
Johnson’s comments are significant because Buss’s son, Jim, runs the basketball operations while Jeanie takes care of the business side. Reportedly, Jim is uncomfortable with the fact that Jeanie is engaged to former Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
His personal feelings could have led to Jim’s hiring of current Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni instead of Jackson in a move many Laker fans and observers believe sent the team into a spiral because a stubborn coach, D’Antoni, who often refuses to adapt the style of play to the talent he has on his roster inherited a team ill-suited for his fast-paced offense.
The Buss family has indicated, per Jerry Buss’s wishes, they have no intention of ever selling the franchise, but many associated with Jerry Buss feel Jeanie is best Buss to carry on Jerry Buss’s legacy.
Johnson said because he and Jeanie are near the same age, they grew up together. Johnson came to Los Angeles when the Lakers drafted him in 1979, when he was 19-year-old prospect out of Michigan State.
“Jeanie Buss and I were raised together,” Johnson said. “It was really great to be a part of the Buss family.”
Johnson said Buss sent Jeanie to USC Business School and said she is so “smart” and “intelligent.” He did not mention Jim Buss by name.